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1988 ram battery good all of a sudden no power to dash lights and wont turn over when turn key

Discussion in 'Pre-1994 trucks, commercial vehicles' started by upser145, Jul 5, 2017.

  1. upser145

    upser145 Member

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    I have a 1988 dodge ram and i was trying to crank it and it turned over twice like normal now when i turn the key over the buzzer that comes on when the doors open works but like my oil light doesnt come on when i turn the key to where it has power and it does nothing when i try to turn it over possible ignition switch failure?
     
  2. ImperialCrown

    Level III Supporter

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    These were also known for bad terminal connections at the bulkhead (firewall) connector. Check the wiring connections from the battery terminals and fuse block/fusible links to the steering column first.
     
  3. upser145

    upser145 Member

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    i cant find anything wrong with the wires. I have power to everything but ignition and radio it seems im stumped if the starter relay went bad id still have power to the radio im lost
     
  4. Muther

    Muther Well-Known Member

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    How old is the battery. Where do you live?

    Sounds like a bad battery to me.
     
    Bob Lincoln likes this.
  5. ImperialCrown

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    Probably not the starter relay. You need to follow the feed wires back towards the battery, to the point where power is lost. This should locate the open.
    Jumpering the ignition switch terminals to see if you get power may help diagnose the switch contacts or connector.
     
  6. upser145

    upser145 Member

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    brand new
     
  7. upser145

    upser145 Member

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    how exactly do i do this?
     
  8. ImperialCrown

    Level III Supporter

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    Do you have a 12 volt test light and wiring diagram? Trace the circuit back to the point where the connection is broken (open) and that should be what needs to be repaired.
     
  9. upser145

    upser145 Member

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    also for awhile i had a problem where i would try to crank it and it would act almost like it wasnt getting enough power to turn it over it would turn over real slow and sometimes near the pass side firewall it would smoke like a wire was burning or something, I then ended up bypassing the start side of the start run relay and it quit smoking but it did it one time a few days ago but i cant see anything wrong with the wires where it was coming from not sure if related
     
  10. AllanC

    AllanC Well-Known Member

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    Some background information would be helpful. Which model pickup (D100, D150, D250, D350)??? Which engine 3.9, 5.2, 5.9 ??? Transmission - manual or automatic???
     
  11. ImperialCrown

    Level III Supporter

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    If the wiring has become that unreliable then the truck could be dangerous on the road. I would take time to go over it and find the electrical problems.
    Smoking wires could be from a high-resistance (bad connection) or too much current (short) or both. What did the wire go to? Can you still read the wire colors?
     
  12. upser145

    upser145 Member

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    Im not sure i never. Couldnt figure out what wire exactly it was coming from i know it was coming from some of them that run from upper pass side that go to wires that run into dash. And its a 88 w150 with a 5.9 auto
     
  13. AllanC

    AllanC Well-Known Member

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    So the 5.9 V8 was a equipped with a 4 bbl carburetor so that means less wiring in the engine compartment.

    Try this test. If you can get the front wheels onto ramps, you will have more room for access to the starter from underneath the engine. Firmly engage the parking brake and make sure the transmission is in PARK position. This is for safety. Take a short piece of 10 gauge wire with bare ends. At the starter you will see 2 terminals. The larger terminal is the positive cable power from the battery. The smaller wire at the solenoid is the solenoid control. Touch one end of the jumper wire between the larger and smaller terminal. There will be a small spark created. Does the starter engage and spin the engine? If YES then you know there is a problem with the control side of the starting circuit. If the starter does not spin then there is a problem with the starter.

    If the starter engages and spins the engine, continue to troubleshoot the starter control circuit. Go to the driver side of the transmission. Look for a 3 wire connector mounted horizontally into the transmission case. Remove the connector. You will see 3 pins in the connector. The 2 outside pins are the circuit for the backup lamps. The center terminal provides the ground for the starter relay. Ground the center pin to the transmission case. Have a helper turn the ignition switch to the start position. If the starter now engages and turns the engine, the problem is with the connector to the neutral start switch or the neutral start switch itself. It is threaded into the transmission case.

    If the starter does NOT engage and spin the engine, then you will have to trace the starting circuit at the ignition switch and determine if the yellow wire from the ignition switch has power when the key is turned to START position.

    The ignition switch is mounted on the outside of the steering column tube under the dash. There is a rod from the key lock switch near the steering wheel that moves laterally along the length of the column tube and opens and closes various circuits in the switch. Is it possible that this switch is loose in its mounting and has slid down the tube such that the START circuit is never engaged? See this picture of the switch and its elongated mounting holes. If the attachment screws get loose, I can see the switch moving and getting out of adjustment.


    Ignition Switch D150 1988.gif
     
  14. upser145

    upser145 Member

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    Alright thanks it may be this weekend when im off work before i can test it all out Thank you for the help. I dont understand why my radio lost power with the ignition when everything else works. But ill report back after i check everything out again
     
  15. ImperialCrown

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    The radio losing power and dash lights out would probably not be related to the starter circuit. There may multiple problems here. That, the age of the truck and the smoking wire made me think of the wiring harness.
    A feed seems to be open somewhere.
    This era of truck did have a reputation for wiring connector/fusible link issues.
    If the smoking wire was from a short circuit, it should have blown a fuse or link to protect itself.
     
  16. upser145

    upser145 Member

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    Do you know if there couldbe a diagram somewhere showing where some of the fusible links are? Im ok mechanically with vehicles not much of an electrican though electrical problems tend to drive me crazy. Also the smoking wire went away for a month or 2 after i bypassed the start side of the start run relay since then its only smoked once if that means anything. Also the backlights work on the dash still but like my oil light never lights up when i turn the key to power like normal. Is there any way to test the wiring harnesses themselves like i say im not very experience with anything electrical
     
  17. ImperialCrown

    Level III Supporter

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    There is this:
    Engine Control Wiring Diagram Of 1988 Dodge W100 ยป Auto-Wiring-Diagram (at http://www.auto-wiring-diagram.com/1175-engine-control-wiring-diagram-of-1988-dodge-w100.html )
    Your local public library may have factory, Motors, Mitchells, etc. service manuals for free loan. Chiltons and Haynes may be useless for electrical work other than very basic work. I have found their wiring diagrams to be incomplete or just plain wrong. Being misled by a wrong schematic can waste hours.
    If you can't find free service manual information on the internet, you should buy a factory service manual with wiring diagrams. If you had to bypass wiring to get it to start, then that kind of proves that there is a feed that is out.
    Undo the starter bypass and find the real problem.
     
  18. AllanC

    AllanC Well-Known Member

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  19. upser145

    upser145 Member

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    Well i can unhook wires from starter relay amd jump it from there and it fires right up but when i turn key over like i was gonna crank it its not sending out power to any of the wires/harnesses
     
  20. upser145

    upser145 Member

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    also the smoking was coming from a bad ground by firewall
     

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